Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cartoon Network plans major anti-bullying campaign

NEW YORK (AP) - Next fall, when millions of kids tune into Cartoon Network to watch Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo and other favorites, they'll encounter something new - an ambitious campaign to enlist them as foot soldiers in the fight against bullying.

Unlike many bullying programs, this one is geared toward middle school, where experts say bullying is most common. It also targets not bullies nor the bullied, but kids who witness bullying, giving them appropriate techniques to intervene.

"There are specific strategies young people can learn to make a difference in their schools and communities," said Alice Cahn, Cartoon Network's vice president of social responsibility. "We decided to focus on those who watch bullying happen - the bystander community - who know they should do something, but are not sure what."

The anti-bullying campaign includes content in the cartoons themselves, in public service ads, in an online curriculum and on CNN, which will include complementary programming for parents.

Read the rest of this article by David Crary of Associated Press here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Senate Passes Landmark Legislation to Halt Bullying and Abuse in the Workplace

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities today secured Senate passage of his landmark legislation (S.1823-B) which establishes a civil cause of action for employees who are subjected to an abusive work environment.

Specifically, this legislation provides legal redress for employees who have been harmed psychologically, physically or economically by being deliberately subjected to abusive work environments; and it provides legal incentives for employers to prevent and respond to mistreatment of employees at work.

Surveys and studies demonstrate that 16 to 21 percent of employees experience health-endangering workplace bullying, abuse and harassment, and that this behavior is 4 times more prevalent then sexual harassment. These studies have also documented the serious effects on these targeted employees. They include: shame, humiliation, stress, loss of sleep, severe anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, reduced immunity to infection, gastrointestinal disorders, hypertension and pathophysiologic changes that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The social and economic well-being of the State is dependent upon healthy, safe, and productive employees,” said Senator Morahan. “I want to thank all my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, who voted for this legislation today. In particular, Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Labor Committee, Republican Leader Dean Skelos, Majority Conference Leader John Sampson and Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein for helping secure passage of the legislation”.

“I became aware of the prevalence of abusive environments in the workplace when one of my constituents brought her situation at her place of employment to my attention. It became apparent that legislation was needed to address the problem,” said Morahan.

“Workplace bullying, abuse and harassment bring with them a variety of very serious human and economic costs,” said Senator George Onorato, Chairman of the Labor Committee and co-prime sponsor of the legislation. “Abusive behavior can cause grievous harm to employees who are the victims of it, leading to all manner of health problems and, often, forcing them to leave their jobs to escape it. In addition, it costs employers in terms of lost employee productivity, and other workplace problems. By taking aim at abusive work environments, this legislation will protect employees from inappropriate behavior and help our businesses to become more productive and successful.”

“Mistreatment of employees in the workplace is a serious issue, but too often, workers have no recourse when they are subject to an abusive work environment,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos. “Senator Morahan’s legislation will help employees who have been harmed, physically, mentally or financially, and will encourage employers to do more to prevent and respond to this problem.”

“We are truly appreciative of Senator Morahan’s efforts which have culminated in the passage of vital legislation today in the New York State Senate,” said New York Healthy Workplace Advocate State Coordinators Mike Schlicht and Tom Witt.

“On behalf of the workforce of our State, I call on my Legislative colleagues in the Assembly to pass this bill in their house,” said Senator Morahan.

Read the original post by Senator Morahan here.

New York is fighting the good fight against workplace bullying

Yesterday New York's senate passed S1823B. If enacted, victims of abusive work environments may have relief via legal action. Though we are not in the clear yet - NY Assembly must first pass A5414B and the Governor must sign it off, which is no easy feat.

According to documentarian and blogger Beverly Peterson, "This time last year, Paterson vetoed a bill with a much less immediate impact and an intention to explore the best way to legislate hostile work environments. Had he put his pen on the dotted line the study results would be in place right about now to help guide lawmakers toward a legal solution."

Mike Schlicht, State Coordinator (Upstate) for the New York Healthy Workplace Advocates, had this to say:

"History was made today in New York State with the passage of Bill S1823B “The Healthy Workplace Bill” that allows employees and employers to address the issue of workplace bullying. Sixty-two courageous state Senators have spoken that workplace bullying will no longer be tolerated in the workplace and employees who bully others will not be able to hide behind their employer and make them responsible for their own actions as is with protected status harassment. Likewise, employers who do not address this form of workplace violence will have to do so and while not all of them with be pleased with the legislation, proactive employers will now have a tool to rid themselves of bullies who undermine the bottom line, increase health care premiums, increase turnover and create workers comp and disability issues. On behalf of all employees, present and former who have experienced this form of workplace violence, I sincerely thank the courageous Senators of New York State for passing this legislation."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Harassment Protection Orders may assist targets of workplace bullying in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has taken one small step towards government ordered civil workplaces. They have passed a law that will assist folks being harassed at work, and it went into effect yesterday.

Previously, restraining orders against stalkers, abusers and those committing sexual assault were reserved for family members, roommates, spouses, or substantial dating relationships. The new law has made the ability to file a Harassment Protection Order (HPO) against anyone, regardless of relationship, available. That means one could potentially file an order against a co-worker or boss for bullying.

I'm no attorney though, so here is some useful information from attorney Phil A. Taylor, offered on his blog:
If one is being harassed, which is defined as “(i) 3 or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property; or (ii) an act that: (A) by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations; or (B) constitutes a violation of section 13B, 13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 23, 24, 24B, 26C, 43 or 43A of chapter 265 or section 3 of chapter 272″, one can now apply to the court for a harassment prevention, regardless of the presence of any family relationship.
A defendant in an action under Chapter 258E can be ordered to: “(i) refrain from abusing or harassing the plaintiff, whether the defendant is an adult or minor; (ii) refrain from contacting the plaintiff, unless authorized by the court, whether the defendant is an adult or minor; (iii) remain away from the plaintiff’s household or workplace, whether the defendant is an adult or minor; and (iv) pay the plaintiff monetary compensation for the losses suffered as a direct result of the harassment; provided, however, that compensatory damages shall include, but shall not be limited to, loss of earnings, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained or property damaged, cost of replacement of locks, medical expenses, cost for obtaining an unlisted phone number and reasonable attorney’s fees.”

More information on HPO's can also be found on attorney Denise Murphy's blog, at Women's, and on attorney Ernest H. Hyde's blog. The law's verbiage can be found here, on Massachussets' government website.
What are the implications for employers in Massachusetts?
You're going to see a lot of advice online that includes implementing guidelines and training to be sure your workplace remains HPO-free. While these are useful tools, if you are working in the type of organization where HPO's are possible, you've got more problems than training and policies can correct.
Take preventative measures. That means leadership will need to step up to the plate and be sure they are exhibiting exemplary behavior for others to follow suit. Develop an action plan for building a positive workplace culture - it should include performance management programs, building effective internal communication, mentoring programs, and a team of champions that will carry the action plan through, for example.

How much does workplace bullying really cost an organization?

The cost of bullying will vary at every organization, so before going into how you can determine those costs specifically, here are some general estimates about bullying and stress in the workplace:

 • Leymann, the researcher who brought bullying into scholarly research, estimated a bully can cost a single business up to $100,000 per year per target.
• A survey of 9,000 employees cited by Dr. Michael H. Harrison of Harrison Psychological Associates in the Orlando Business Journal estimated a cost of more than $180 million in lost time and productivity.
• The Corporate Levers Survey estimated the cost of unfairness to American businesses during the past five years to be $63,738,884,783.
• The American Psychological Association estimates job stress costs American businesses $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and medical and legal costs.
• The American Psychological Association also estimates that 50% to 70% of visits to primary care physicians are for physical issues stemming from psychological factors such as stress.

These costs can be broken into five separate categories:

Distraction from Tasks
The bully wreaks havoc on the organization, and as a result everyone, not just the target, are distracted from getting work done. Some of the things that keep them from working are:

• Reduced psychological safety and increased climate of fear
• Loss of motivation and energy
• Stress induced psychological and physical illness
• Decreased loyalty to the organization
• Management burnout, leading to decreased commitment and increased stress
• Time spent looking for different work
• Time spent gossiping about the bully and his or her behavior
• Time spent by others consoling the target

Time Lost
Of course any time you have to deal with employee issues it costs time and money to engage in the following types of activities:
• Employees and management calming and counseling victims
• Management appeasing, counseling or disciplining bullies
• Soothing victimized customers, suppliers and other key outsiders
• Reorganizing departments and teams
• Interviewing, recruiting, and training replacements for departed victims, witnesses and bullies who leave the organization

Tangible Costs
Tangible costs include:
• Lost customers who were victimized by the bully
• Lost customers who heard about the bully from unhappy former customers
• Anger management, communication, leadership and other types of training
• Absenteeism and turnover
• Unemployment insurance
• Increased health insurance costs
• Workers compensation

With regard to absenteeism and turnover, 30% of targets quit, and another 20% of witnesses, or people who do not believe they are bullied but are bothered by the behavior they observe nonetheless, follow them (Rayner, 1997). An additional 46% of targets also consider leaving the organization on a regular basis (Vartia, 1996). Targets also report that each year, they take seven days more sick leave than someone not being bullied. You already know absenteeism and presenteeism is costly, and in fact can cost between 25 and 65% of that particular position’s annual salary. Ouch.

One cost that is intangible is a bad reputation, something the Internet makes easy for you to acquire. Websites like eBossWatch, where employees can go to report and publish their horrible experiences for anyone to read, should keep you focused on building a positive workplace. The Corporate Leavers Survey also indicated that 50% of respondents said the unfairness with which they were treated led them to discourage others from purchasing products or services from previous employers.

Legal Costs
Of course, if somebody sues for harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, hostility, or wrongful termination, it is going to cost you in obtaining counsel, and in settlement fees and successful litigation by victims and bullies.

Communication Breakdown
This category is hard to monetize, but think about this: If you do not like someone, do you go running to them for answers to questions? Probably not. Now, what if you are intimidated by someone? The likelihood of you seeking them out for information goes down exponentially. If you are not asking the questions you need answers to in order to do your job effectively, then there is a problem.

Your organization has goals in place, whether to make a certain amount of money, expand your customer base by 50%, or create a new product by the end of the year. It has goals, and it needs employees to communicate with each other to meet them.

The objective of internal communication, then, is to problem solve, innovate, give constructive feedback to employees, gain insight from customers, train and share knowledge, and meet customer needs. All of these communication activities lead to meeting organizational goals.

Since communication is imperative to meeting goals, it necessarily follows that strong interpersonal relationships are also crucial to meeting goals. In other words, communicating well is about building relationships –healthy interpersonal relationships made up of understanding, empathy, conflict management, listening, leadership, and social intelligence allow you to meet organizational goals.

When relationships are on fire, however, or not working properly, organizational goals also go down in flames and up in smoke. This would be like forcing your organizational goal to jump through a ring of fire; and why would you do that?

In sum, bullying causes everyone, not just the targets of the behavior, to lose motivation, lose loyalty to managers and the company, stop caring about quality of work, live life in fear, become anxious and even depressed, and stop coming to work. As a result your business processes will suffer and your bottom line will too.

Relationships among employees are the key to your success. Without them, people are not talking to each other, being innovative, making the right decisions, or focused on the right activities to maximize their productivity.

Click here to download the whitepaper.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More on performance reviews and workplace bullies

Yesterday I posted an article about using values to address a bully's performance and behavior. I made a few suggestions on some of the values that would be useful in this sort of process, and then I came across Jon Matsuo's post on LinkedIn. During a conversation there in an organizational development group, Jon posted these examples and I thought they were so great I asked him if I could post them here.

So, here are some more suggestions for values that you can create to help deter bullying behavior in your workplace. Remember, the values should ultimately be defined by your managers and employees to create buy-in, but these are definitely helpful.

1. Team Player – helps others without being asked. Does not let the team down in any way, takes the lead in getting things done. Never puts others down but encourages, teaches and supports them. Works well with all. Takes on the toughest jobs. Always visible working hard.

2. Reliable – Always on time. Completes tasks professionally. Carries out his duties completely. Others have confidence that he will do things the right way every time. Always calls in the day before if he is unable to work. Can be relied on to do extra work if it is required. Consistently puts out great work. Is perfectly honest.

3. Responsible – Takes personal responsibility for getting the job done perfectly, no matter what. Always trying to solve problems, protect the company’s property, image, reputation, costs, and success. Is very careful when driving company vehicles or installing _____. Always comes to work fully ready (Does not drink the night before, never does drugs, gets good night sleep). Knows what each job is about – knows the production notes and special instructions. Asks for clarification if is not sure about anything, or if something doesn’t seem right. Immediately reports unsafe conditions or things that are harmful to any person or the company.

4. Fast Learner- is anxious to learn from others, and is always trying to learn to do things better. Remembers what he has learned and applies it on the job. Thinks of new ideas to use on the job. Asks questions when he is unsure about what and how to do a task... Curious. Teaches others what he has learned.

5. Professional- Realizes that any and every job can be done with pride and high quality. Always has pleasing the client as the highest goal, because it means more business. Earns respect from his appearance, (hair, cleanliness, uniform) his speech, his hard work, safety, and his skill. Helps others abide by rules by his example. Earns the respect of clients and everyone around him. Works hard, and does the right thing when no one is watching.

6. Maturity- Totally trustworthy. Will always do the right thing without being told. Never bends the rules. Unselfish. Is always considerate of others, never offends others with speech or actions. Lets his work speak for him (hard working, skillful, smart) Impresses teammates, management and clients with what a quality person he is. Strong character – is able to think for himself, and follow company report card values rather than being influenced by others.

7. Leadership- has all of the above qualities in abundance. His actions speak well of him in all ways and he is well respected for his work, effort, caring, skill, and integrity. Team mates are willing to follow him because of his example. He always tries to think of ways that he, and the company can be better. Thinks ahead and plans. Communicates well. Humble. Does not try to bully, intimidate, manipulate. Is not afraid to speak up to others in a respectful way. Will stand up for what is right. Always trying to help others to make them successful, and look good.

The values are assigned differing weights, depending on the need for emphasis. The employees know that these are not their values until they live them, and every opportunity is taken to apply them in discussions and decisions.

As you can see there is nothing special about them. They should be put together by targeting the specific needs of the organization.

I view values as tools for getting the organization to where it needs to be. When applied judiciously, people appreciate the positive impact that it can have, and embrace them. Those that don't may not belong there.

Thanks Jon! Visit Jon on LinkedIn here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Performance reviews and workplace bullies

Can you use the performance process to help a workplace bully curb his or her behavior? Well, they can be very helpful if you’re paying attention to ensuring a positive and healthy culture. Developing a performance evaluation process that includes civility is not too difficult (although changing the bully’s behavior will of course be a challenging process, but worth it in the end).

Many organizations use the performance evaluation process as a once per year thing that everyone despises. Managers hate the process of telling employees they are not meeting goals, and employees of course dread those types of conversations. After a few weeks they’ve forgotten what it is they were supposed to work on and return to normal anyway. This isn’t helpful to the employee, the manager, or the organization.

In order to adjust any type of behavior, whether bullying or not, employee evaluations should be held at a minimum once per quarter. They should also not focus only on what’s going wrong, but should place a focus on what is going right. So don’t forget to talk about where the employee is excelling too.

Before you start the process, you must first develop a list of competencies that are simple and unambiguous, and describe expectations for performance and behavior. Here are some examples of competencies that would be useful for eradicating bullying behavior:

• Communication: Addresses others with an encouraging and positive attitude. Listens to other ideas different from his or her own with an open-mind. Avoids raising his or her voice when frustrated and demonstrates professionalism at all times. Maintains confidentiality of information where required and handles sensitive information with tact.

• Conflict resolution: Understands the value of listening to differences of opinion. Seeks solutions to resolve conflict with a focus on maintaining the relationship. Avoids attacking individuals during periods of conflict, and focuses instead on developing an amicable solution to the issue.

• Collaboration: Seeks out the opinions of others before making decisions that will impact them. Encourages open discussions about issues and searches for innovative solutions. Avoids gossiping or humiliating others.

• Assertiveness: Demonstrates ability to express opinions and convictions in a professional manner and without putting other opinions down. Displays confidence during interactions and deals constructively with other’s differences of opinions.

During reviews, provide the employee a minimum five examples of specific situations where these behavior-based competencies and other performance-based competencies you developed were demonstrated. Describe the positive impact or outcome for the organization as a result of meeting that competency.

After discussing strengths, discuss a maximum of three areas for improvement. Focus on the one major area the employee should work on, particularly their interpersonal skills if the employee is a bully. Be very specific about situations where competencies were not met, how they are harmful for the organization, and what changes you would like to see. Provide clear examples of what “doing it right” would look like. Connect “doing it right” to positive outcomes for the organization.

Next, provide the employee with SMART goals for their behavior change. SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and have a Timeline. A bully needs to know what the specific behavior change should look like, how it will be measured, that it is possible to change and you believe in their ability to do so, and by when the change should take place.

Of course bullies cannot change overnight, so your timeline is going to have to be made up of baby steps. If it appears the bully is left unsure of how to change his or her behavior, you may need to bring in a communication skills coach, or even provide a high-level organizational mentor, to help the individual meet these goals.